Diabetes in dogs is a chronic condition in which a dog isn’t able to process glucose properly. While serious, this metabolic disorder can be managed with the right care plan so that your dog can live a happy, active life after their diagnosis.
Still, Dog Owners often have many questions about dog diabetes. Can it be prevented? How can you identify some of the signs of diabetes in dogs? And what are the best treatment options? We’ll answer all of these questions and more by taking a closer look at dog diabetes.
What is diabetes in dogs?
Just like in humans, cats, pigs, and many other animals, diabetes in dogs, diabetes mellitus, is a disease in which the body cannot properly absorb and utilise a particular type of sugar called glucose. Glucose is a key nutrient that the body needs to use as energy in the cells, and with the help of the hormone, insulin, glucose is passed from the bloodstream to cell tissue throughout the body.
In diabetic dogs, though, this process is not effective, either because of a deficiency in insulin or an inability of the insulin to bind with the glucose. The result is an excess of sugar in the blood, which gets flushed out with urine. Meanwhile, the muscles and organs that rely on glucose for energy are not able to function normally.
Is it possible to prevent dog diabetes?
Unfortunately, when it comes to diabetes mellitus, it’s often the case that Dog Owners can’t prevent their dog from developing this disease. Experts say that this form of diabetes isn’t predicated on lifestyle and diet . Indeed, healthy dogs seem to be prone to developing diabetes mellitus regardless of their medical history or activity levels. That said, obesity is a risk factor for developing metabolic diseases in general, so Dog Owners should be mindful about proper diet and exercise.
It’s also important to note that there is one form of dog diabetes that may be preventable: diestrus diabetes. This onset of diabetes occurs during pregnancy in some dogs, according to a study done on Elkhounds. The research also found that the condition frequently went into remission after the dogs received an ovariohysterectomy. One key way to prevent this type of diabetes from developing is to have your female dog spayed to prevent pregnancy.
Are some dog breeds more prone to developing diabetes?
As we mentioned, dog diabetes is not typically associated with lifestyle and diet, which means that there’s a genetic component to consider. Indeed, some breeds have a higher likelihood of developing diabetes, including:
- Miniature and Toy Poodles
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Cocker Spaniels
- Australian Terriers
- Bichon Frise
Studies have also revealed that some dog breeds are less likely to develop dog diabetes, including:
It’s important to keep in mind that any dog can develop diabetes, regardless of whether they belong to the high risk group. As such, all Dog Owners should be able to identify diabetes in dogs symptoms.
What are the most common signs of diabetes in dogs?
Dogs often show one or more of the following symptoms as they begin to suffer from diabetes:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination. In diabetic dogs, glucose is flushed out of the bloodstream through urination, which triggers a cycle of increased thirst and urination.
- Frequent infections. Diabetes can weaken your dog’s ability to fight off infections. And, with an increase in urination, they are especially susceptible to chronic urinary infections.
- Changes in appetite. Some dogs will experience an increase in appetite, while others will lose interest in food completely.
- Weight loss. Rapid loss of weight is common for diabetic dogs even if they’re experiencing an increase in appetite. This is because, without a reliable source of glucose through digestion, the body turns towards other sources of stored energy such as muscle and fat. As those are broken down to make up for the lack of glucose, the dog loses weight.
- Changes in mood and an increase in fatigue. Dogs suffering from diabetes often appear depressed and uninterested in play or exercise.
- Cataracts, cloudy eyes or vision problems. Even if your dog is getting older, it’s important not to assume that vision problems are simply a sign of old age. Cataracts and vision problems are very common in diabetic dogs.
- Vomiting. Vomiting is a symptom of a serious stage in diabetes and could be a sign that your dog needs immediate veterinary care.
At what age do dogs typically show dog diabetes symptoms?
While dogs of any age can be prone to diabetes, it’s often not diagnosed until the later years, usually when a dog is between 7 and 10 years old.
How does a vet diagnose diabetes in dogs?
If your dog is showing some of the symptoms that we’ve discussed here, having them assessed by a vet will be an important next step.
Your vet will take blood and sometimes urine samples to analyze the insulin levels in the body. These tests will also rule out any other health conditions that may have similar symptoms.
If they suspect dog diabetes, your vet will likely recommend an initial trial of injectable insulin to see if this treatment improves your dog’s blood glucose levels. Your vet will teach you how to administer the shots and tell you how frequently your dog will need them, but you can expect one or two daily doses. Over the next few weeks and months, your vet will require additional testing to see if the treatment plan is working.
What can you do for your dog after their diagnosis?
Once your dog has been diagnosed as diabetic, you’ll need to make some lifelong adjustments to keep them happy and healthy. Here are a few changes that will make living with dog diabetes easier for you and your pup:
- Have your dog’s medical supplies delivered. A Dog Owner’s worst nightmare is being caught without insulin. But luckily, there’s an easy way to have your dog’s insulin delivered to your home so that you’re never in that situation. You can find insulin syringes and prescription insulin on Pet Chemist, and ordering online is simple, quick, and often cheaper than going through your vet .
- Find Dog Sitters who are comfortable with administering insulin. Having a diabetic dog doesn’t mean that you can never leave their side. The key is finding a knowledgeable and reliable Pet Sitter who is comfortable administering their medication. Finding the right Dog Sitter in advance is important for emergency situations, when you may need to leave your dog in a hurry.
- Follow your vet’s guidance on diet. Proper diet can go a long way in managing your dog’s glucose levels. Talk to your vet about which diabetic food they recommend for your dog.
- Introduce a daily exercise routine. Given that fatigue is among the most common dog diabetes symptoms, it may surprise you to learn that exercise is a crucial element in any diabetic dog’s treatment plan. But, once your dog starts improving with insulin, giving them daily exercise will be an important way to keep them healthy. Depending on your dog’s activity levels, age, and breed, some beneficial forms of exercise may be walking, jogging, swimming and even dog dancing!
- Stay consistent. Managing diabetes in dogs requires consistency in feeding times, insulin injections, exercise routines, and vet visits. You may also have some at-home monitoring tasks such as tracking your dog’s weight and water consumption to make sure your dog’s treatment plan continues to be effective over time.
Living with a diabetic dog is a big commitment, but your pup is happy to repay you with unconditional love
There’s no denying that your dog’s diabetes diagnosis is a big life change for you and your dog. But, by learning more about dog diabetes and working with your vet to put together the right care plan, your dog can have more happy, cuddly, active years at your side.